Scientists at the University of California in US have developed a minuscule hammer called a “microHammer”. Using this tiny hammer, scientists are hoping to better understand cellular response as a result of a traumatic damage or diseases like Alzheimer’s. The hammer is as small as a cell so it can strike, squeeze, poke or tap individual cells and find out their responses.
According to the researchers, brain cells, especially stem cells, react differently under different circumstances. Before the invention of this hammer, it was not possible to individually study a cell’s response to various types of applied force. But now the scientists can record a cell’s behaviour. This will lead into a new source of information that the scientists are hoping will help treat brain conditions better in future.
One of the researchers, Megan Valentine said, “This project will enable precision measurements of the physical, chemical and biological changes that occur when cells are subjected to mechanical loading, ranging from small perturbations to high-force, high-speed impacts. Our technology will provide significantly higher forces and faster impact cycles than have previously been possible, and by building these tools onto microfluidic devices, we can leverage a host of other on-chip diagnostics and imaging tools and can collect the cells after testing for longer-term studies.”